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Academic Integrity - Referencing, Citation & Avoiding Plagiarism: Exams and Revision

This guide explains what referencing and citation is and how to use the APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA and Vancouver Styles. It includes links to each style guide.

Top Tips on Revision

Revision is where you review, understand, and restructure the materials you have learned in class, covered for assignments, or read as part of your course. This is done in preparation for exams.

Start from the start

Begin revising at the start of your course. After each lecture or tutorial, read over your lecture notes at least once, follow up on additional reading. This will improve your recall of information and deepen your knowledge. 

Revision Notes

Create your revision notes throughout term. As you revise each lecture or topic, create a condensed set of notes which can be used for revision at the end of term.

Ensure your notes are clear, easy to read and understand. Handwriting notes can help with recall and build up practice for a writing in exams. Re-write notes to help recall, coming up to exams.

Use formats that work for you such as spider diagrams, flash cards, pictures, paragraph summaries, highlighted key words.


At the start of your course, find out when all your exams are. Mark this in your calendar. Mark the number of weeks/days you have for revision and when you are going to start. Include assignments and any other responsibilities or social activities coming up during the term.

Revision Timetable

When you begin focused revision, work out a timetable. Allocate hours to each subject. Ensure you schedule other social engagements, activities and any other responsibilities also. Be realistic about how much time you have. 

Note down exactly when, where and how long each exam will be. Double check this information. Plan how you will get there with plenty of time to spare.

Topics to Revise

Choose topics to revise. To help, read your module outline in detail and browse your lecture notes. Has your lecturer hinted that certain subjects might appear? Review past papers for topics that may come up regularly. Do you have a strength on certain topics?

Look for themes across lectures. These may become obvious after reviewing your lecture notes. 

Past Papers

Practice answering exam questions on past papers. You can set yourself a test exam, to get used to writing in a timed fashion. Or you can come up with draft outlines for answers to the different questions. If the paper will be the same this year, work out how long you will need to spend on each question. Have this in your head before the exam. Past papers are available from SIS Student Web. Click here for details.

Study Groups

Arrange a study group to cover different sections and discuss with one another. Ensure your group stays on track and you don’t spend time just chatting. Use Zoom, Microsoft Teams or some other technology if you can’t meet in person. Alternatively, ask a friend if you explain a topic to them over a coffee or on a walk.


Record yourself reading your notes and listen while doing something else like exercising, cleaning or cooking.

Breaks and Eating

When revising full-time it is very important to take a five or ten minute break at least every hour. Get up, move around, have a drink of something, take some fresh air. Ensure you are eating properly also and not snacking on junk food.


Anxiety, stress and worry over exams is normal. Try to start with small things to prepare, this will get you into the exam mode. Creating that revision timetable, setting up your study space, reading over notes, or just picking which topics you will revise can all help begin.

Remember to meet friends, plan exercise and make time for things other than study. This will improve wellbeing and actually improve exam performance. Avoid people who make you feel insecure or bad about your exams and study. Friends and family who support you positively are best.

UCD Student Counselling is there for any student who needs extra help. They also have great links to online mental health services. If you think you need help, they are there to give you support, so get in contact. Apps and online resources for practicing mindfulness can be great. Examples are The Mindfulness Centre, Calm, Buddhify or Headspace.

Top Tips on Exams


Ensure you have any equipment you need such as paper, pens, pencils, calculators and a watch. Phones will not be allowed in exams. Bring in water and keep yourself hydrated during the exam. Bring your UCARD This helps concentration.

Open Book or Remote Exams

Ensure you have a comfortable place to work. Check your laptop has access to wifi or broadband. Download and test any software you will need to use during the exam. If at home, warn those living with you that you are doing an exam and ask for quiet. Put a sign on your door to remind them if necessary. If taking your exam in the library, ensure you have booked a space in advance from the library home page. Leave plenty of time for submission in case of problems.

Read the paper

Read the exam paper, back and front. Reread it paying particular attention to how many questions you have to answer. Note down how long you will spend on each question. Divide time equally among questions with equal marks.

Question outline

Some people like to write an outline for each question they are going to answer first, then go back and answer each question. This helps if you run out of time.  It can be a good strategy to start with your best question first, so you can get into the flow. Ensure you stick to your allocated time for each question.

Reread questions 

Before beginning to answer a question, read it a third time. Ensure you understand exactly what it is asking, underline any key words in the question and make sure to use these in your answer.

Rough Work

Always have spare pieces of paper where you can note down things that come to mind for working something out, key references to use later or any formulae you may have needed to memorise. Write a heading such as “rough work” or “exam notes.”


If you find yourself panicking, take a couple of minutes to breathe. Take a deep breath in, hold for three seconds, then breath out slowly. Repeat a few times. Learning a mindful breathing technique in advance is a great idea.

If you become stuck on a question and go blank, try reading what you have written so far, then take a spare piece of paper and write down a list of things that come to mind. This might get you back on track. Alternatively, start another question and go back to the one you became stuck on. Make sure you recalculate your timings properly.

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